Tag Archives: jewelry making

Newspapers, Metalsmithing, and the Perfection Tattle

I glanced at the newspaper, still being delivered to our shrubs every morning like clockwork (even though we had canceled our subscription weeks before), and launched a thought spiral by wondering why it had ever been called a “rag.”  One thought led to another, tangents pinging into one another like bumper cars. “Rag?” Something to do with cloth? If grandma were alive she would know. Isn’t it sad that the newsroom was going the way of the dinosaur? Newspapers used to be the key form of news and information in communities large and small…yada yada.

My thoughts slowed as I warmly recalled the lyrical novel, “Winter’s Tale,” by Mark Helprin, in which the business of news became an integral part of the main character’s life. In this magical and mesmerizing story set in an alternative New York City, time becomes a flexible fabric as the hero, Peter Lake, searches for “a beautiful city that might be entirely just.” At one point in the novel, he finds himself homeless and nearly insane. He stares into the windows of “The Sun,” a newspaper, and realizes he is a mechanic. As his mental fog lifts, he asks the harried mechanics to allow him inside because he knows how to fix the broken machine he viewed from outside. They do, and he does.
After this, the mechanics decide he is worthy of a tour of the “many dormant machines that had puzzled them all their lives.” The pair show Peter a golden bell-shaped instrument sitting atop a steam engine, and beg him, upon threat of doing themselves in with a clock mallet, to explain to them its purpose. It had nearly driven them mad by screaming and releasing hissing puffs of steam at odd times, for no apparent reason, then falling silent again for long periods. They stare as Peter gives a name to the little instrument and explains the “perfection tattle,” which allows excess steam to be released when the engine reaches 100 percent efficiency. He further explains that there are more of these perfection tattles on other engines in a large operation such as this, and the whole business is like a giant puzzle with interrelated pieces.

To be the conductor,’ Peter Lake says with a grin, ‘you have to know every instrument. And you have to know the music.’

The perfection tattle tale, with its ripe imagery and story of redemption, painted a picture in my imagination that remains to this day, three Christmases after first reading it. Triggered anew this morning, I yearned then as I yearn now to create my own perfection tattle. A body of interrelated work consisting of several pieces of comely perfection. I aspire to be a conductor who knows her instruments and can create “music” with them.

To wrap thing up, what does the term “rag” mean, in reference to newspapers? My guess was partially correct. It originally referred to a type of high-quality paper known as “rag linen,” upon which newspapers used to be printed. Almost right.

Handmade Sterling Pendant, imperfect, by Nancy Lee

Do I still dare to seek “perfection?”

Metalsmithing in the Digital Age – Part One

Competition in today’s web-world can be a beautiful thing. Print media has taken a hit the past few years, with periodicals and newspapers put into the position of either radically changing offerings to the public, incorporating new media to retain and attract new subscribers – or being left behind.
As a longtime subscriber to jewelry making periodicals, I’ve been faced with trying to decide which magazines are worthy of my continued support. Obviously I’m not the only one, for some of the major players are really going to town to offer new things to readers, web-users, and old-school die-hard fans (like me).

Some offer free videos online, and I’ve watched my fair share of video tutorials over the years. Most of them feature fairly stiff-acting metalsmiths who leave out more than they provide. Or teach something counter to my own methods. Or just plain wrong or dangerous! So it was a nice surprise to find a simple, straightforward, FREE video from Interweave, publisher of the mighty fine Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine. Taught by my metalsmithing hero, Helen Driggs.
Simple, basic, and to the point. You won’t learn any bad habits here. Click on the link below. It will take you to the website where you can view the video. Enjoy!
Free Metalsmithing Video Tutorial: Basic Metal Jewelry-Making Techniques – Jewelry Making Daily.

New Video About Learning at the Lawrence Art Center

Hey! Please take a look at my newest teaching venue, the Lawrence Art Center on Indianapolis east side. Judy Byron is the President of the Partnership for Lawrence, Inc., and an advocate for the arts. She has been busy gathering up teachers, scheduling classes and facilitating everything that needs to get the Art Center up, running, and ready for students. Look for classes for most all ages here. And also, look for a new fun and creative outlet.

Handmade Beautiful Day Earrings

Click here for the classes I will be offering. If you are new to metalsmithing for jewelry making and want something fast and basic, this is where you can find it!
To the left is an example of an earring project similar to the hammered copper disk earrings we will make in the first class!

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